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Where Are We Heading?

We are suffering from two crises, the COVID19’s very contagious influenza infection and the hype and to some extend the overreactions manifested largely in overly bureaucratic restrictions that undermine the revival of business. I am sick and tired of the negative news being thrown at me without silver linings made visible and being implemented. We know which sectors in the Philippine economy merit prioritizing in reopening; the list on my desk identifies 65. Are we really moving to provide those sectors with what is needed to start and employ? I don’t see it. And I am not talking about handing out cash!!!

Let’s agree that we will stop looking at the negative news and start focusing on the more positive news that is available also but is overwhelmed by negatives.

We are all aware that we have no choice but to re-evaluate our company’s purpose, whether we own it, whether we are on C-level or whether – as employees – we just want the organization to come stronger out of the economic dilemma we are facing at the moment.

Given the New Tomorrow, I believe we have no choice but to design an innovation strategy that takes sustainability, social impact, and integrity into account.

All organizations can and should play a role in investing in future-centered innovation. When judging social responsibility, we need to acknowledge the difference between corporations that simply participate in philanthropy, versus those that are driven by a clear mission to innovate for good and lead by example. Of course, I don’t want to discourage corporate giving which is imperative for the survival of many incredibly impactful NGOs. For me, it’s more important to consider how your organization can do good with the products and services that you create and sell, bearing desirability (human), viability (business), feasibility (technology), and integrity (impact) in mind.

While we are going to do this now, there is still the question: When will things return to normal?

The answer is simple, if not exactly satisfying: when enough of the population — possibly 60 or 80 percent of people — is resistant to COVID-19 to stifle the disease’s spread from person to person.

There are two realistic paths to achieving this “population-level immunity.” One is the development of a vaccine. The other is for the disease to work its way through the population, with smart approaches to testing and contact tracing.

Projecting when each facet of daily life will be restored would be easier if public-health authorities had a well-informed view of who is infected, who has recovered and become immune, and who is still susceptible. This is the information that would emerge from widespread testing, which the Philippines and many other countries are still behind on deploying.

With this new information, it might be possible to isolate contagious or more vulnerable people, while a large portion of the population returns to something resembling normal life. We can all accept fewer tables in a restaurant, for instance, or a smaller number of people at a bar. Social distancing is not that bad.

On the other hand, pharma companies are coming up with vaccines, but unfortunately there are a series of methodical trials done to make sure they don’t harm healthy people, to make sure they generate the desired antibodies, and to make sure those antibodies actually defend against the disease. If researchers are making something that’s going to be pumped into the arms of hundreds of millions, probably billions, of people, they want to make sure it’s just right.

Even in a vaccine-less world, reaching population-level immunity means that future outbreaks of COVID-19 should be far less damaging than the one we are currently confronted with.

In conclusion, let’s get ready to take advantage of opportunities rather than seeing problems only. I am interested in your feedback; contact me at

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